I keep catching myself whistling Andy Williams‘ theatrical holiday classic, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time Of the Year!” but it isn’t lingering as some irritating, immortal earworm I caught during any number of trips to the supermarket last December. No, no. It just so happens to be the perfect anthem for the fast-approaching first weekend in March, when downtown Columbia transforms into a “one-of-a kind utopia,” becoming the stage for a “cathartic journey that forces participants to do nothing less than to re-imagine reality.” That’s a very refined way of describing the more whimsical mission of Columbia’s annual True/False Film Festival, which offers not just a dynamic array of documentaries and revealing Q&A sessions with directors and subjects, but above all else a gratifying sense of our community and the creativity within.
The films are just the beginning, airing in both intimate and mighty venues like the historic Missouri Theater. Even if you’re no cinephile, the festival has numerous family-friendly ways to participate, many of which don’t cost a dime. Sprinkled around downtown Columbia you’ll discover street musicians who have traveled far and wide; art installations, big and small (and bigger); free screenings of the Neither/Nor series and panel discussions with guests including Tim Heidecker and Nathan Fielder as well as documentary funders, filmmakers and visual artists.
If you’d rather stay home during the fest or are not able to see all the films you had hoped, look no further than to your humble public library catalog. In fact you can browse films of years past at the current Columbia branch media display. Don’t see what you’re looking for? You can refer to this master list of past films in the DVD collection or search in Kanopy for films you can stream with a DBRL library card. Feel like seeing one on the big screen? Keep up with our Center Aisle Cinema series, which often picks from the True/False lineup and has hosted filmmakers like Robert Greene for audience discussion. You can also read up on the first ten years of the festival in “Rarely Has Reality Needed So Much To Be Re-Imagined,” a retrospective including interviews with festival founders, “where are they now” segments for select films, an exploration of each year’s theme and more. Still, I must say that there’s just nothing quite like experiencing the festival and all its merriment for oneself.
Here’s what some DBRL staff had to say:
― Tim, who ended his festival weekend feeling inspired
Pro tip: if attending multiple films for multiple days isn’t your bag (it’s not mine, either), pick a couple of showings at big venues and buy individual tickets. Don’t miss the parade! It’s a true joy fest!
― Otter, who has attended almost every year since 2004, loves to dance with friends in the eccentric procession
It’s a genuine festival … The enthusiasm of the crowds could power a mission to the moon … Documentary film is important, but community is the most important thing in the end.
― Eric Daniel Metzgar, director (and alas, not on staff at DBRL) on why he adores True/False
Will (pictured left) has gone since 2008 and is volunteering next week for his fifth year. What is it that keeps Will coming back? He enjoys working as one of the most visible volunteers, the Q Queen, by helping screenings run smoothly and keeping the crowds informed. While attending to his queenly duties, Will likes to ask where people are from and is always taken aback at the range of places represented.
With all this hype going around, I implore you all to join in the fun next week. To me, it’s one of the best stunts pulled off in this town, and I’m proud to work somewhere that ventures to share a part of this festival with the broader community.